Michigan schools impacted by COVID-19 are set to receive millions in crucial funding from the state.
In a statement released Wednesday, Governor Whitmer announced the allocation of close to $65 million distributed through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Schools in Michigan’s economically disadvantaged districts are of particular focus to the state.
The statement reads as follows:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on Michigan’s students, educators, and support staff, especially those in low-income communities. GEER funds are meant for districts that are determined to be most significantly impacted by COVID-19. To ensure these districts are targeted, the framework distributes $60 million to school districts based on the number of students in high-need student groups. Districts will receive funding based on their numbers of economically disadvantaged students, special education students, and English language learners. To be eligible for funding, the school district’s concentration of economically disadvantaged pupils, compared to total district enrollment, must exceed 50%.”
COVID-19 has disproportionately affected communities of color since the start of the pandemic; Black Americans in Michigan make up 40% of COVID-19 deaths recorded in the state. The drastic numbers influenced state officials to declare racism as a public health crisis.
Of the millions of dollars distributed to schools in need, portions will go towards enforcing targeted objectives designed to better the academic space for all involved. The state is dedicated to improving internet connectivity, student mental health, remote learning, and the science of teaching.
“As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and approach the start of the new school year, we must continue doing everything we can to protect our students, educators, and support staff. This funding will help us do just that, and ensure crucial support for our schools, whether it’s helping schools access PPE and cleaning supplies or helping students mitigate the impacts of learning loss in districts that need it most,” said Whitmer. “This is a good start, but we still need the federal government to work together on a bipartisan recovery package to support all Michigan students and educators and state governments, families, and small businesses.”
Education experts have praised Whitmer for the recent funding directive and emphasized the importance of caring for disadvantaged communities.
“It’s essential and appreciated that Gov. Whitmer is focusing these resources on districts with the highest need during this pandemic,” said Michigan Education Association President Paula Herbart. “Both from a public health and from an educational standpoint, economically disadvantaged communities need these additional funds to keep students safe and academically engaged. Equity in education funding is a critical issue, and it’s encouraging to see Gov. Whitmer remain committed to addressing disparities, so every student gets a great education no matter where they live.”
$5.4 million of the funds will be distributed to other educational inequities such as statewide mental health services, public television learning resources, implementation of teacher professional learning practices, and the Early On program designed to help improve infants’ and toddlers’ responses to remote early learning. All funding comes from the Governor’s Education Emergency Relief Fund.